Rise of the Web-Celeb

Ollie Watson
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It’s become a nightly routine for me now – brush my teeth, grab a drink from the kitchen, get snuggled into bed with my laptop on, and get to work catching up on all my ‘Subscriptions’. YouTube has become a complete obsession in my life and spending 5-10 minutes a day with each of these now well-known faces is like catching up with an old friend and having a laugh.

YouTube’s been around on the Internet since 2005 and (despite previously only using it to watch music videos and cats falling over) has become one of those websites I just take for granted being there. The fact anyone can upload anything means that there really is a video of everything that happens around the world. Want to kn how to tackle any kind of problem be it D.I.Y. or video game strategies? YouTube’s got it covered. And with hundreds and thousands of funny moments and home videos shared for others to laugh at too.

In the past few years, however, the most popular videos on the site are video blogs, or ‘vlogs’ as they’re sometimes called. Recently some have racked up to five or six million views within a week or two! Most vlogs generally consist of one person sitting in a room, talking to a camera about their lives or creating an amusing situation. My personal favourite channels are the ones that have a recurring theme or idea, for example Mamrie Hart’s “You Deserve A Drink” web series in which she chooses one celebrity or public figure per video and creates a cocktail to suit them, throwing in numerous puns and pop-culture references on the way.

This platform of getting yourself out there to the public without an agent or auditions is incredible; within a few touches of a button you can post your video online for the world to see, comment on and ‘like’, and if people relate or respond well to your videos a sudden fanbase or following can grow very quickly.

Mention people like Tyler Oakley, Jenna Marbles or Grace Helbig to a teenager and they will either know everything about their lives or have heard the name at some point. These YouTube celebrities share a, sometimes daily, insight into their lives through their videos and allow their viewers to virtually ‘hang out’ with them. The fact they’re talking directly to you, albeit it prerecorded and through a screen, gives their viewers a sense of intimacy and it’s almost like they’re talking to you personally from the comfort of your own bedroom.

To me these people create a much more relatable form of entertainment than most ‘celebrities’ as they’ve risen to fame by being themselves, despite how much money or how many contacts in the industry they may have. Being a gay teenager and a self-confessed geek I love that characters like Tyler Oakley and Grace Helbig are becoming so loved worldwide. The two of them are 100% proud of who they are and show it through their videos, acting goofy, awkward and often inappropriate, all with hilarious results. Robin Wells has previously touched on LGBT in Out and Proud on YouTube, and I just find it’s a great medium of showing a positive role-model without seeming patronizing or unrelatable.

Unlike a movie or a television show, which might be announced one year and released 4 years later, these vloggers are constantly working hard and uploading their videos all year round, allowing an ongoing relationship with their viewers. With subscriber numbers consistently rising and YouTube meet-up events like VidCon and Summer in the City, where fans can meet their favourite vloggers, attracting up to 12,000 people this year, there are no signs that the ‘Internet Celebrity’ is going anywhere soon.

About Ollie Watson

I'd be the easiest person to track down if I ever ran away because I'd be live-tweeting the whole situation. Just another social-network addict who likes to imagine himself as a mix of Carrie Bradshaw and Grace Helbig but in reality is really more a Scottish Alan Carr without the funny. @oliphant360